* * *
10:00 PM: Took a long shower. Preparing what I'm going to say to my Intro to American Politics students on Thursday. Frankly, it's amazing how not bad the Senate turned out to be (51-49 GOP) -- but given that we're facing down President Trump with a unified GOP legislature, that's not exactly a consolation. Anyway, I'm probably done for the night. Best of luck to the President-elect, and to the country. As President Obama said, the sun will come up tomorrow.
9:04 PM: 89% of Pennsylvania is in, and Clinton's lead is less than 6,000. McGinty is down by 4,000.
8:55 PM: I wonder if folks realize that Hillary Clinton may about to become a literal martyr for democracy. I mean, I don't expect her to flee the country. And I do expect Trump to do his best to "lock her up." And I hardly expect him to be content with normal legal processes if they don't go his way.
8:37 PM: I'll probably write more about this in another post, but as far as I'm concerned the story of this election is the realization by White voters that they didn't have to care about minorities or their rights. Nobody was forcing them to. And in turned out, when given a choice, they happily elected to endorse White supremacy.
8:24 PM: You might have noticed that I'm basically looking for bright spots while praying that Michigan, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire turn around (and Pennsylvania holds up). This moment's bright spot comes to you courtesy of New Jersey where Rep. Scott Garrett (R) is down two points with 88% in. He was wildly conservative for any district, let alone his swingy eastern seaboard one.
8:12 PM: Sheriff Joe Arpaio has lost his bid for reelection in Arizona. And to be too racist to win election tonight is deeply humiliating.
8:10 PM: Yes, Iowa was almost certainly a mirage. Trump's now up by a half point with about half the state in, but the trendlines are clearly moving his way.
7:44 PM: I assume that Clinton being up 10 in Iowa with 30% in is solely a function of which counties are reporting. It's hardly the sort of night where Clinton would pull out a surprise-win in an overwhelmingly White Midwestern state.
7:37 PM: Half in in Pennsylvania, and Clinton is still up four. McGinty is beating that pace, up five against Toomey.
7:29 PM: Colorado is 2/3 in, and Clinton's up 5 there. That's a good thing.
7:24 PM: Ohio called for Trump: He's up by 11 with 75% in.
7:22 PM: On the one hand, Wayne County (Detroit) is only 15% in. On the other hand, Clinton is only up 51/44. Those are cataclysmically bad numbers for her if they hold. Trump is up 50/45 in Michigan as a whole now, with 30% in.
7:20 PM: The only thing really in question in North Carolina right now is the governor's race, where Roy Cooper holds a tiny lead over incumbent Republican Pat McCrory. Ross is down 5.5 points, Clinton 3.5, with 86% in.
7:15 PM: Virginia looking decent for Clinton now, but North Carolina (as well as Florida) almost certainly will go Trump. Michigan and Wisconsin are where it's out now -- and if you thought White working class voters were angry in the southeast....
7:02 PM: Broward County just came in (98%). Trump is still up by 1.5% statewide. Looks like Florida is Trump territory after all. Damn it. Egg on my face (least of my concerns right now, but I'll own it).
6:54 PM: Clinton just took a (tiny) lead in Virginia, with 82% in.
6:52 PM: In Michigan, Clinton is winning Oakland County by 52/44. Earlier in the evening I'd note that's above her county benchmark (49/49). But with rural areas really coming in hard for Trump, the logic is that Clinton needs to badly overperform in counties like Oakland (affluent inner suburbs) to counterbalance Trump's big night out in the exurbs.
6:44 PM: Now it's a 10,000 point gap in Virginia with 80% in. Anyone who follows Virginia politics knows that Democrats tend to keep creeping up in late returns, but it'd be nice if they'd hurry it along and relieve some of my heart palpitations.
6:36 PM: Clinton is creeping up in Virginia. Down just 25,000 votes with 78% in.
6:27 PM: Still waiting on Broward County. A little less than 2/3 in, which is still a lot. But goodness, it really will be down to the wire.
6:12 PM: Since I was harping on county benchmarks, here's the counterstory. The key big counties, Clinton is overperforming. But there are lots of little counties, and Trump is overperforming there. That's the story in Florida, for example -- we'll see if it's the same nationwide.
6:10 PM: 50% of Broward now in, and its not a big dent in Trump's lead. Now I'm officially nervous.
6:03 PM: FL-07 gets called for Stephanie Murphy -- a Democratic pickup.
6:00 PM: Not that it was remotely in doubt, but Chris Van Hollen will be the next Senator from Maryland. First campaign I ever volunteered on. Still a huge fan. Congratulations Senator!
5:53 PM: I'm still feeling pretty good about Florida, with Broward outstanding, but I understand why people are nervous -- particularly with more rural/exurban locales going hard for Trump.
5:51 PM: Given how catastrophic West Virginia is for Democrats these days, its very impressive that a Democrat is winning the governor's race right now. Jim Justice is up 48/42 with 30% in the Mountain State. Clinton, for her part, is down 65/30.
5:42 PM: North Carolina seems to be slipping away from Deborah Ross at the moment. It's not just that Burr just took a lead. Up 55/41 in Wake County (Raleigh) with 88% in, she wanted to be at 57/42.
5:34 PM: Ohio has quietly reported a third of its votes and Clinton is up 50/46. Again glancing at the benchmarks: Cuyahoga County is Clinton 68/29, she wants 68/31 (it's a third in right now as well).
5:30 PM: Two Florida House seats have already flipped, but they cancel each other out and in any event are the product of redistricting turning a blue seat red and vice versa. The two other high-profile House races there were the FL-13, where ex-Gov. (and ex-GOP) Charlie Crist looks like he'll turn the seat blue (albeit by a closer than expected margin -- he's up 52/48 with 91% in), and the FL-26, where Carlos Curbelo held off a truly awful Democratic candidate in Joe Garcia. But remember when I said to keep an eye on the FL-07? 86% in and Democrat Stephanie Murphy is up 52-48 over incumbent Rep. John Mica. There's more vote left in Mica-friendly turf, but this one looks down to the wire.
5:24 PM: I am seeing a lot of panic about Florida, as Trump is currently leading by about 20,000 votes with 89% counted. Broward County is the second largest county in Florida. It has not put in any of its non-early votes. Its early votes went Clinton 70/29 -- well ahead of her benchmark.
5:19 PM: Taking a gander at New Hampshire, we see that Hassan (Senate) and Van Ostern (Governor) are both running ahead of Hillary Clinton. My first instinct was to be pleased, but it seems that Democrats are actually falling a little short of their targets here. Concord, where everyone is stacked at around a 60/35 lead, was supposed to be closer to a 63/36 Democratic advantage. 80% of the vote is counted in Concord, but just 6% statewide.
5:15 PM: Exit polls looking very robust for Jason Kander (D) in Missouri (and the same polls have Trump meaning by about the margin you'd expect, so that helps validate them). Man, do I want that one -- this ad deserves to be rewarded.
5:13 PM: Looks like Rubio is going to hold onto his Senate seat in Florida. There's still a good chunk of south Florida yet to report, but Murphy just isn't wracking up the numbers he needs down there. Miami-Dade is now 80% in and Murphy's only up 54/43 (he wanted 62/38; Clinton's at 63/34).
5:11 PM: It might not seem like big news that Kentucky Republicans cleaned house -- literally -- in taking the Kentucky State House tonight. But Democrats have held it continuously since the 1920s. Really, this is just the final spasm of the realignment of Appalachia, but it's still worth noting.
5:08 PM: Tammy Duckworth knocks off Mark Kirk to secure the first Democratic Senate pickup of the night. Probably the most "in the bag" Senate race for us, but it still feels really good -- especially after Kirk's grotesque racism at the tail end of the campaign.
5:00 PM: I'm feeling really good about a Clinton victory tonight. The Senate is a dicier proposition. With Indiana out (as I suspected it would be), Democrats still need that last piece of the puzzle assuming that their core trio of Wisconsin/Illinois/Pennsylvania holds together. In Florida, Murphy is inching closer to Rubio but remains four points behind (compared to Clinton, who's up by two). In North Carolina, Deborah Ross (D) is ahead of incumbent Richard Burr by four points whilst Clinton is currently leading in the state by seven. The good news is that Ross is -- just -- hitting the number she needs in Wake County (the largest in the state): with 25% in she's up 58/38 there, she needs to be 57/42.
4:56 PM: We must be close to calling Florida, right? Clinton's up by 2% with 73% in. Trump and Clinton are tied in Duval County (Jacksonville), a place Trump absolutely needed to win. Meanwhile, the south Florida trio of Broward, Miami-Dade, and Palm Beach counties haven't reported anything except their early vote -- and Clinton's beating her benchmarks in all three.
4:54 PM: Ohio Senate race goes to Rob Portman without trouble. A state Democrats should have been competitive in, but where ex-Gov. Ted Strickland could not get off the ground. Meanwhile, Richard Burr is maintaining a slight lead in North Carolina -- but will it hold as Democratic areas start to come in?
4:51 PM: With Clinton's early numbers looking excellent in both Florida and Virginia (don't worry about the aggregate totals right now -- she's hitting or beating her benchmarks in the huge counties that will decide things), my eye falls on Pennsylvania. Florida and Virginia are blue-trending states where higher percentages of educated, professional, and/or Latino voters are giving Trump fits. Pennsylvania, at least in theory, cuts a different profile -- a state where their remains a solid core of working class white rust belters. If they break red this year in a mirror image of how Latinos and upscale professionals are turning blue, we still have a race. If not, we're done here.
4:42 PM: All the early numbers look dreadful for Evan Bayh, who seemed to piss away a sizable lead late in this race. I'm 10% satisfied, because Bayh is the quintessential entitled arrogant political hack and this is justified comeuppance, and 90% annoyed, because this was a Senate seat Democrats should have taken and he blew it hard. 24% in and he's down 55/39
4:40 PM: The VA-10 is one of those races that Democrats need to win if they have a chance of making the House interesting. It's a blue-trending district whose demographics (wealthy educated professionals) are primed to despise Trump, but currently held by a really strong Republican incumbent in Barbara Comstock. And with 22% in, Comstock is leading her Democratic challenger by a measly 400 votes.
4:35 PM: Man, it really will be interesting to see if the Latino tide that is drilling Trump in Florida right now carries over to sweep Rubio out of office. As much as I'd like to see it, it looks like there are enough ticket-splitters for Rubio to survive. There are some House races, too, where Democrats might see some stretchier pickups -- keep your eye on the FL-07.
4:27 PM: That said, it doesn't seem like Trump's misfortunes are carrying over to Marco Rubio. Right now, he's running 7 points ahead of Trump's pace -- enough to give him a five point lead over Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy.
4:23 PM: Early numbers looking very good for Clinton in Florida. She's ahead in Duval County, where Romney narrowly won in 2012 (and recall that Trump needs to do better than Romney to win the state). In Palm Beach County, she's starting out up 61/37 -- the benchmark she needs to hit is 58/41. Ditto Broward County, where Clinton wants to keep Trump at 32% or below ... and he's not even cracking 30% right now.
4:17 PM: There's a lot of crowing about South Carolina being "too close to call" following exit polls. I personally am less enthused, for two reasons. (1) SC is extremely polarized by race, so Democrats have both a high floor and a low ceiling; and (2) it does Clinton no good to lose SC by less than the typical Democrat. In fact, it's the possibility that Clinton will overperform in non-competitive states while getting nipped at the finish line in swing states that's been my main frustration with relying on national popular vote polls (and my main keep-me-up-at-night terror).
4:09 PM: CNN has called the Kentucky Senate race for Rand Paul. Not a surprise, even with Gray overperforming Clinton (and Grimes in 2014). I will observe -- not to give false hope -- that CNN's tally is behind other numbers I've seen (e.g., those nice numbers for Gray out of Fayette County).
4:05 PM: The GOP's stranglehold over the south may well be cracking. Virginia and North Carolina are already purple. Meanwhile younger voters -- and "younger" here means younger than 45 -- are now decisively in the Democratic corner in Georgia.
3:55 PM: One sleeper race that nobody had on the radar was the Kentucky Senate race, where Democrat Jim Gray challenged incumbent Senator Rand Paul (R). And to be sure, most sleeping races stay asleep. But in Fayette County, near Lexington, Gray is beating 61/39 with 80% in (by comparison, in 2014 Democratic candidate Allison Lundergan-Grimes won this county 52/45 in the course of losing statewide to Senator Mitch McConnell 56/40). But particularly in a state like Kentucky, it's entirely plausible that the more liberal portions of the state might swing noticeably to the D column even as the more conservative areas tilt even harder to the right -- and there are more of the latter than the former.
3:51 PM: Exit polls are tricky business. But if this one is at all accurate, it does not augur well for the GOP -- it has Latinos voting for Clinton over Trump by a crushing 79/18 split (it was 71/27 in 2012, 67/31 in 2008).
3:49 PM: Since we've got some time, let's use an early example of the importance of looking at comparative county level data rather than early aggregate numbers. There is currently one county in Indiana where a non-negligible percentage of the votes are in: Montgomery County, northwest of Indianapolis (59% in). At the presidential level, it's going 73/23 Trump (about a 5,000 vote advantage). Now, I have no idea if that's historically good or bad for the GOP nominee. What I do know is that at the Senate level, it's 63 Young (R)/30 Bayh (D), and for the Governor's race it's 61 Holcomb (R)/35 Gregg (D). So the downballot Democrats are running about 15 points ahead of Clinton in that county -- potentially a good sign that there's a non-trivial number of ticket-splitters, though again it's hard to know without info on how strongly Republican this county is (not to mention it's super-early, this is a relatively small county, etc. etc.).
3:39 PM: The first few polls have closed! They're in Kentucky, where nothing really is competitive, and Indiana, which is going to go for Trump at the Presidential level but has interesting races downballot. Of course, we still have some time before any sizable results come in.
11:58 AM: States are not a monolith. Different counties vote different ways -- in Florida, for example, Miami-Dade votes very differently than the Panhandle. Consequently, it's easy to be mislead by early returns which often come from a few counties which are likely to be unrepresentative of the state as a whole. What you want to do is see whether Democrats are over- or underperforming relative to their historic vote totals on a county-by-county level. If, for example, you saw that Clinton was getting 75% of the vote in St. Louis City, you might elated -- except that Obama got 83% there in 2012 and Clinton would want to approach 90% to counteract more conservative rural counties and win the entire state.
On this note, DK Elections' county benchmarks are an absolutely invaluable resource. They'll give a sense of where Democrats should be shooting for if they want to pick up swing states (and even in non swing states, overperforming 2012 numbers may be a good sign down ballot).
10:50 AM: I suppose I should get my final predictions in, while the getting's good:
President: Hillary Clinton 323 EV (49.2), Donald Trump 215 (45.1). Clinton takes Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and both Maine districts. Trump gets Ohio and Iowa.
Senate: 50/50. Democrats hold Nevada and flip Illinois, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and one of New Hampshire or North Carolina (force me to choose and I'll say New Hampshire). Republicans hold Florida, Indiana and (sadly) Missouri.
House: Democrats break 200 seats but fail to win a majority.
Gubernatorial: Democrats hold Missouri, West Virginia, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Montana; flip Indiana and North Carolina. If this comes true, it represents Democrats running the table on the contested governors' races -- but it seems like their candidates are overperforming compared to the Senate.8:17 AM: There won't be a lot worth reporting on for awhile, and I have a morning meeting anyway, so for now I'll just leave you with my personal GOTV theme lyrics, courtesy of Hoobastank's "Without a Fight":
The clock is counting down...
The seconds tick away...
This is our time! Without a doubt!
Time to ignite! We're not going down,
Without a fight!
This is our time! Get up off the ground!
Take what is mine! We're not going down,
Without a fight!